"John van Buren’s translation should be read by anyone looking for an access point into Heidegger’s work because of his faithful and comprehensible way of rendering this difficult text. Any careful reader of Heidegger who is looking to better understand his work should also read this translation if for no other reason than to see, in nuce, the beginnings of Heidegger’s thought. Basically, anyone reading Heidegger should be reading this text." —European Legacy, Volume 15 Issue 7 2010
Ontology: The Hermeneutics of Facticityby Martin Heidegger, John Van Buren
First published in 1988 as volume 63 of his Collected Works, OntologyThe Hermeneutics of Facticity is the text of Heidegger's lecture course at the University of Freiburg during the summer of 1923. In these lectures, Heidegger reviews and makes critical appropriations of the hermeneutic tradition from Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine to Schleiermacher and
First published in 1988 as volume 63 of his Collected Works, OntologyThe Hermeneutics of Facticity is the text of Heidegger's lecture course at the University of Freiburg during the summer of 1923. In these lectures, Heidegger reviews and makes critical appropriations of the hermeneutic tradition from Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine to Schleiermacher and Dilthey in order to reformulate the question of being on the basis of facticity and the everyday world. Specific themes deal with the history of ontology, the development of phenomenology and its relation to Hegelian dialectic, traditional theological and philosophical concepts of man, the present situation of philosophy, and the influences of Aristotle, Luther, Kierkegaard, and Husserl on Heidegger's thinking. Students of Heidegger will find initial breakthroughs in his unique elaboration of the meaning of human experience and the "question of being," which received mature expression in Being and Time.
"With thematic trajectories pointing both toward and beyond Being and Time, this translation... is of enormous significance for students of the development of Heidegger's early thought." —Daniel O. Dahlstrom, Boston University
"John van Buren’s translation should be read by anyone looking for an access point into Heidegger’s work because of his faithful and comprehensible way of rendering this difficult text. Any careful reader of Heidegger who is looking to better understand his work should also read this translation if for no other reason than to see, in nuce, the beginnings of Heidegger’s thought. Basically, anyone reading Heidegger should be reading this text." European Legacy, Volume 15 Issue 7 2010
"With thematic trajectories pointing both toward and beyond Being and Time, this translation... is of enormous significance for students of the development of Heidegger's early thought." Daniel O. Dahlstrom, Boston University
Read an Excerpt
Ontologyâ"The Hermeneutics of Facticity
By Martin Heidegger, John van Buren
Indiana University PressCopyright © 1999 Indiana University Press
All rights reserved.
§1. The title "Ontology"
As comments on the first indication of the theme of facticity. Initial description: ontology.
"Ontology" means doctrine of being. If we hear in this term only the indefinite and vague directive that, in the following, being should in some thematic way come to be investigated and come to language, then the word has performed its possible service as the title of the course. However, if ontology is regarded as designating a discipline, one belonging, for instance, within the field of inquiry of Neo-Scholasticism or within that of phenomenological Scholasticism and the directions of academic philosophy influenced by it, then the word "ontology" is not as a course title fitting for what our theme and manner of treating it will be in the following.
If on top of that one takes "ontology" to be a rallying motto for the now popular attacks on Kant and, more precisely, on the spirit of Luther and, in principle, on all open questioning not frightened in advance by possible consequences—in short, ontology as the alluring call to a slave revolt against philosophy as such—then the title of this course is completely misleading.
The terms "ontology" and "ontological" will be used only in the abovementioned empty sense of nonbinding indications. They refer to a questioning and defining which is directed to being as such. Which sort of being [Sein] is to be questioned after and defined and how this is to be done remain utterly indefinite.
In preserving a memory of the Greek word ov [being], "ontology" at the same time means that epigonic treatment of traditional questions about being which proliferates on the soil of classical Greek philosophy. Though traditional ontology claims to deal with general definitions of being, it actually has a definite region of being before its eyes.
In its modern usage, the word "ontology" means as much as "theory of objects" and indeed one which is in the first place formal. In this respect, it coincides with ancient ontology ("metaphysics").
However, modern ontology is not an isolated discipline, but rather is connected in a peculiar manner with what is understood by phenomenology in a narrow sense. It was in phenomenology that a fitting concept of research first emerged. Ontology of nature, ontology of culture, material ontologies—they form the disciplines in which the content of the objects in these regions is drawn out as subject matter and displayed in its catégorial character. What is thus made available then serves as a guide for problems of constitution,, the structural and genetic contexts of consciousness of objects of this or that kind.
Conversely, it is only through phenomenology that the ontology corresponding to it is established on a secure basis and held on an orderly course in its treatment of problems. When we look at consciousness of ..., the of-which, i.e., the character of a being as such insofar as it is an object, also becomes visible, and it is only in this manner that it becomes visible. The characteristics of objects in the respective regions of being are what is at issue in the ontologies. This is what they come to. Precisely not being as such, i.e., be-ing which is free of objects. Phenomenology in the narrow sense as a phenomenology of constitution. Phenomenology in the wide sense as something which includes ontology.
In such ontology the question—from which field of being should the decisive meaning of being which is to guide the treatment of all problems in ontology be drawn?—is not at all posed. This question is unknown to it, and because of that its own provenance, the genesis of its meaning, remains closed off to it.
The fundamental inadequacy of ontology in the tradition and today is twofold:
1. From the very start, its theme is being-an-object, i.e., the objectivity of definite objects, and the object as it is given for an indifferent theoretical mean-ing, or a material being-an-object for the particular sciences of nature and culture concerned with it, and by means of the regions of objects—should the need arise—the world, but not as it is from out of its being-there for Dasein and the possibilities of this being-there, or also affixing other nontheoretical characteristics to it. (Note: double sense of "nature" as world and as region of objects—"nature" as world can be formalized only from out of Dasein, historicity, thus not the "basis" of its temporality—same goes for "body.")
2. What results from this: it blocks access to that being [Seienden] which is decisive within philosophical problems: namely, Dasein, from out of which and for the sake of which, philosophy "is."
Insofar as the title "Ontology" is taken in an empty nonbinding sense, so that it means any questioning and investigating which is directed to being as such, it will indeed come into use in the following. Thus the term "ontological" refers to the posing of questions, explications, concepts, and categories which have arisen from looking at beings as be-ing [Seiendes als Sein] or, alternately, have failed to do this.
(Ancient metaphysics is taken up again as "ontology"—superstition and dogmatism without the slightest possibility of, or even mere tendency to, the kind of research which poses questions.)
(In "time" it will in fact be pointed out that fundamental problems are also found in ontology!)
Thus the course title which has arisen from the basic theme of what follows and the manner of its treatment is rather: The Hermeneutics of Facticity.
Excerpted from Ontologyâ"The Hermeneutics of Facticity by Martin Heidegger, John van Buren. Copyright © 1999 Indiana University Press. Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
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Meet the Author
John van Buren is Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. He is author of The Young Heidegger: Rumor of the Hidden King (IUP, 1994).
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